From: University of Oxford
Published September 13, 2017 11:02 AM

Low-Level Radiation Less Harmful to Health Than Other Lifestyle Risks

Human populations have always been exposed to ionizing radiation, and more so in modern life due to its use in medicine, industry and the armed forces. Whilst the risks to human health from medium and high-level radiation are relatively well-understood, the risks at lower levels are less clear.  Mixed messages about the safety of low doses of radiation from different sources have created confusion for the public and for policy makers.  

In a new study, published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, a team of experts from the Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford have compiled the evidence on health risks from low-level ionizing radiation, adding a new nuance to the debate. The restatement is intended to better inform policy decisions and show where crucial gaps in knowledge lie. It clarifies the scientific evidence available from a variety of sources, and ranks them as to how much they enjoy consensus support from the scientific community.  The paper concludes that the overall risk to human health from low-level radiation exposure is small, particularly when compared with general risks from modern society, such as obesity, smoking and air pollution.

Professor Angela McLean, lead author and Co-Director at the Oxford Martin Programme on Collective Responsibility for Infectious Disease, said: ‘We know a great deal about the health risks from radiation thanks to exceptionally careful studies of groups of people exposed to different levels from nuclear bombs or accidents, medical exposure of patients, naturally occurring sources (such as radon), and workers in the nuclear industry and medicine. From these studies it is clear that moderate and high doses of radiation increase the risk of developing some types of cancer.’

Read more at University of Oxford

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